The Sooke School District is offering to trade a parcel of land in Colwood in the hopes of getting two Langford properties out of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
“We’re hopeful the ALC considers this,” said Sd62 superintendent Jim Cambridge. “We’re anxious to get a decision as soon as possible.”
Earlier this year the City of Langford applied on behalf of two landowners to have properties at 940 and 960 Latoria Rd. removed from the ALR. These two properties, when combined with another in the area, would allow for the construction of a new middle school and potentially a second school on the site. But that application was rejected by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).
In a notice from the ALC, the Island Panel stated they had concluded unanimously not to support the City’s exclusion request because “the exclusion of the large and agriculturally capable properties does not in any way contribute to the preservation of agricultural land or the encouragement of farming on agricultural land.”
But Langford council voted at Monday’s meeting to re-apply, given new information about the potential for a land swap deal.
That decision came after SD62 offered to include a property it owns in the City of Colwood for inclusion into the ALR in support of this new application. That property is roughly 11 acres, the same size as the two parcels Langford is seeking exclusion for.
“It’s right on the Colwood/Langford border,” noted Cambridge, near Havenwood Park and the Latoria Walk subdivision. “We’ve had that property for many years – decades in fact.”
But due to construction limitations on the land, its terrain and the location, he noted it’s not an ideal site to build a school and would not be big enough for a middle school, which the district has prioritized for the area.
However, he said, the two properties on Latoria Road, near Happy Valley Road, would be an ideal location given the development in the area.
This would be the third time the ALC has considered removing this section from the ALR. It was originally included in a block exclusion request put forward by Langford back in 2015. The City is still waiting for a decision on that application after it was put under review. Langford decided to separate the two Latoria properties and put them forward for a second time once the school district showed interest in purchasing the site.
If the two pieces are removed, the City would have to give up its right of first refusal on 940 Latoria Rd. and an option to purchase a portion of 960 Latoria Rd.
The City would also have to rezone the site.
“We’re working in partnership with the school district and the developer,” said Langford Coun. Lillian Szpak. “We recognize this is a growing area in Langford … [and] homeowners like to know there are good schools in the area.”
She noted that a lot of young families are attracted to Langford for a number of reasons and making sure there are enough schools is important.
“We would be delighted if this goes through,” she said, noting the City is working with all parties to make sure this application will have the best chance possible at getting approved.
“This third application is different because it contains the retention of some ALR land … [and] that’s key,” said Szpak. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”